Caroline Corcoran (Periodical Journalism, 2003) thrived as a journalist student in City, doing work experience at a teen magazine where she later landed a job. Through her career as a journalist, Caroline discovered a real passion for interviewing people and learning more about the art of writing. To allow flexibility into her schedule Caroline became a freelancer – this enabled her to dedicate enough time to start writing her first novel “Through The Wall“, a creepy psychological thriller said to be “A rival to Gone Girl for its addictive, twisted plot” by STYLIST.
For her book, Caroline drew inspiration from her own life, combining some personal experiences with a truly chilling story of two neighbours who can hear each other through the thin walls of their apartments. Creating opinions about each other regardless of having never met, until the protagonist notices that something is off. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…
Find out more about Caroline and how she came to publish her first novel here:
Can you tell me about your time at City?
Gladly! I did the Periodical Journalism Postgraduate Diploma (as it was known then) and it was one of the best years of my life. My first year in London, making some of my closest friends, being creative, learning what sort of writer I was (definitely not a news one), doing all kinds of interesting work and laughing a lot along the way.
Utterly brilliant for contacts too, with work experience, jobs and even now. There’s always a certain nod you do when you meet someone else who went to City, I think…
What happened after you graduated?
I freelanced at a teen magazine called Sugar – I had done work experience there while I was at City – for a few months before a Junior Writer job came up which I got.
I interviewed Beyonce among other things and I loved every day in that job and regularly reeled from the fact someone paid me to do it. After that, I worked at various magazines/ newspapers and climbed the ranks to section/ deputy editor level before I decided in 2013 that I wanted some more flexibility and became a freelancer.
How did your novel come about?
I’ve talked about writing a book for a long time and a time slot came along when it seemed possible. it also helped that I had an idea that I thought might work: that bit of the puzzle had been missing before!
Creatively, Through The Wall came from a couple of ideas that I thought initially were separate books but eventually merged together. One was my experience going through fertility treatment, which I thought wasn’t written about honestly enough in fiction. And two was living in a London flat where I heard my neighbour often but never met them and my imagination running wild about what a situation like that might lead to.
Through The Wall is about two women that live next door to each other, hear each other’s lives through the wall of their flats and build perceptions of one another that are far from accurate. Then the situation escalates, and one of them becomes truly obsessed with the other’s life and wants to make it her own.
It’s an examination of how much we compare ourselves to others, and how damaging that can be. I hope it’s also a good, gripping read!
What has been the most rewarding experience?
The whole publishing process. I have worked with a great agent and brilliant editors who’ve all brought something more to Through The Wall. There are similarities with the magazine process that I’m used to – the cover sell, good quality writing, a lot of edits – but there are also huge differences, and I hadn’t anticipated to what extent they would exist.
So learning about how publishing works has been rewarding, as it’s fascinated me for so long. Seeing the cover of my book for the first time (and its international counterparts, as it’s been sold abroad) was a proper dream come true moment.
What has been the most challenging experience?
Time! Exhaustion! I started writing Through The Wall when I was pregnant, then picked it up when I had a newborn. I edited it when I was pregnant for a second time, and when I had another newborn. I learnt to write fast and focus more though, which is not a bad skill to develop when you’re used to procrastinating and faffing about on social media, as we are all guilty of…
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Ask around – use your City contacts – and find yourself a brilliant agent.
But before that, get writing and keep writing. Manuscripts loom too large if you stop and leave them for months. Get the words down and edit or delete later. But keep writing and being in the document so it doesn’t start to intimidate you. Oh and take any windows of time you have. Not many people have whole days to dedicate to writing their first book as you’ll likely be working/ studying too so if you wait for those, you won’t start.
Take that half-hour window to start a chapter. Do ten minutes of character work on the bus. Just get going. Personally, I plan chapters – even loosely helps – so that I don’t ever have that sinking ‘What’s next?’ feeling which is another thing that makes you stop writing, when you lose momentum. If you have a plan you always know where you’re going with the narrative, though I know lots of other writers don’t plan so perhaps that’s an individual thing.
Thank you to Caroline for sharing her story!